Packed schedule set to be first test for A-League squads

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A hectic start to the new A-League season will be a challenge for already stretched A-League squads, according to former Socceroos ace Robbie Slater.

The 2020-21 season kicks off on December 27 when expansion club Macarthur FC face Western Sydney Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium.

That match is the first of 18 in just eight days.

Having seen top European clubs rack up injuries amid their own COVID-affected fixture pile-ups, Slater believes a similar challenge awaits for Australia's professional teams.

A-League clubs can have a maximum of 23 players on their roster under the league's salary cap - which has been reduced by reportedly more than $1 million for the upcoming season due to the impact of the COVID pandemic.

"That's going to play a big part," Slater told AAP from the Fox Sports season launch in Sydney.

"In Europe, that's already happening.

"We've seen many injuries. You look at the champions Liverpool in the EPL, they've lost three or four players.

"The A-League will be similar.

"How will the clubs deal with that? The coaches deal with that?

"We have the disadvantage as well, our squads are smaller than those European clubs.

"We're going to have to wait until the kick-off to discover exactly what these kind of problems are going to amount to for the clubs and the players."

The A-League is poised to commence with the futures of two clubs up in the air.

Newcastle are yet to find a new coach after Carl Robinson's switch to the Wanderers and are also on the hunt for new owners, while Central Coast owner Mike Charlesworth placed the Mariners up for sale at the end of last season but is yet to find a buyer.

Despite the uncertainty over both regional NSW teams, Slater is confident they won't go the way of former A-League franchises Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury.

"Of course, those clubs, they appear in trouble and are in trouble in terms of ownership and other things going forward," Slater said.

"But I do know that the owners will make sure that those clubs stay viable.

"There'll be no clubs disappearing, as in Newcastle or Central Coast, at the moment.

"Although it's not ideal I'm confident that they will be OK."

Source AAP